More than 370 children's centres have shut since 2010

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Over the past six years, 377 children’s centres have closed and just eight have opened, according to new Government figures.

dan-jarvis-with-child-at-sure-start-centre

Labour MP Dan Jarvis visiting a Sure Start children's centre

Released by the early years minister Caroline Dinenage following a parliamentary question from Labour MP Dan Jarvis, the figures show 64 centres closed last year. This is on top of the 313 that closed between 2010 and 2015.

In response to a separate parliamentary question posed by the Labour MP for Barnsley, the early years minister revealed that just eight children’s centres have opened since 2010.

As of 31 December 2016, there were 3,251 main children’s centres and ‘sites.’

A new House of Commons Library analysis also shows that spending on children’s centres in 2015-16 was 47 per cent less in real terms than in 2010 – the equivalent of over £600 million in cuts.

According to the Labour MP, further cuts of over £60 million are planned for this year.

Dan Jarvis, who today has put a bill before the House of Commons on tackling child poverty, said the closure of Sure Start centres, the underfunding of the remaining centres and the 'unspecified' delay in the consultation, all demonstrate the Government’s ‘further neglect of children’s early years’ development’.

A consultation on the future of children’s centres was first announced in July 2015 by the former childcare minister Sam Gyimah. It was expected to launch that autumn, however it was delayed.

Dan Jarvis added, ‘The Tories have broken their promises to protect Sure Start. Cuts of this scale to Sure Start children’s centres risks the future of our children.

‘The lack of real investment in early year’s education is deeply concerning. The Government should be supporting children’s centres, not cutting them.

‘I call on the Government to publish the consultation on the future of children’s centres at the earliest opportunity and to stop the cuts.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said, 'Giving children the best start in life and supporting working families with the costs of childcare will help to ensure this is a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. We are investing a record £6billion in childcare per year by 2020 and this includes extra support for disadvantaged families.

'Many councils are merging centres to allow services to be delivered more efficiently. Where they decide to close a children’s centre site, they must demonstrate that the outcomes for children would not be adversely affected and will not compromise the duty to have sufficient children’s centres to meet local need.'

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